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Effective Treatment for Perimenopause Symptoms with Gua sha

Gua sha can be very effective in a clinical situation and I know because I've used it like this for decades. One condition it has proved useful is with controlling the symptoms of perimenopause. In this episode, I look at a study which explores how to use Gua sha for this condition and also how to see the body through the lens of nature - in this case, the movement of a sunflower. I give detailed descriptions of the Gua sha treatment used in the protocol so that you can follow it and add a few tips of my own.

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Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome to episode 3 of season 2 of the Gua sha Show!

Today we’re looking at the effects of Gua sha on something that affects a lot of women as they reach a certain stage of life. And we’ll look at a study showing us how to treat with Gua sha and I’ll throw some tips in as well.

But first let’s look at sunflowers!

The Sunflower Analogy: Understanding Perimenopause

You may know that until a certain age, sunflowers follow the sun during the day as they grow. They start the day facing East and then rotate throughout the day to the West, absorbing as much sunlight as possible. And then when the sun goes down, they rotate back. They do this from a combination of their internal circadian clock and growth hormones. If they didn’t do this then they would have a decreased biomass and smaller leaves.

Treat perimenopause symptoms with Gua sha

As the sunflower matures and the flower opens fully, there’s a big change. Their growth slows down dramatically and the plants actually stop moving during the day. From then on, they just stay facing East.

The reason they do this the circadian clock ensures that the plant reacts more strongly to light early in the morning that in the afternoon or evening and this helps it to attract five times as many pollinating insects, so they don’t need the rotation any more.

The ancient Chinese were students of the natural world and looked around them to see the principles which mould our internal and external environment.

A sunflower is a great plant to study to give us insight to how our bodies function and like other heliotropic plants, can provide the simplicity we need to understand complexity.

So let’s now turn to perimenopausal syndrome which affects many women as they mature in life and become fixed facing East like the sunflower.

Defining Perimenopause: A Look at Symptoms

So lets start by clarifying what perimenopausal syndrome is. And let’s come to a few definitions from Harvard Medical school. Although it can be defined in various ways, experts generally agree that it begins with irregular menstrual cycles — and this is because of declining ovarian function — and ends a year after the last menstrual period.

Everyone is quite unique so the symptoms of perimenopause are going to vary a lot according to what’s and what has been happening in your body up to that point. But for most women it lasts three to four years and the symptoms can be hot flashes, night sweats (up to 50% of perimenopausal women suffer these), sleep disturbances, heavy periods, periodic bleeding, mood changes (20%), short term memory loss and problems keeping your concentration.

Often what’s happening internally is actually really complicated and things might be happening at these stages in your life which affect the symptoms, for example, your children might leave home, you might change jobs, you might change partners or someone close may become ill or die. So sometimes the symptoms can be a mixture of many factors that affect your life.

So how can Gua sha help you with the symptoms of perimenopause?

Gua sha: A Natural Remedy for Perimenopause Symptoms

First let’s have a look at some reports which have come out of China on this very issue.

One of these was picked up by many major news networks in 2016-2017 and you can find articles in Reuters, yahoo news and Fox news. They were getting rather excited about the publication of a Chinese study in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. It was called ‘Effect of Gua sha therapy on perimenopausal syndrome: a randomized controlled trial’ and after 8 sessions of Gua sha, the group that received Gua sha reported improved reductions of hot flashes/sweating, paresthesia (burning or prickling sensation on the skin), insomnia, nervousness, melancholia, fatigue, and headache. And their conclusions were that Gua sha therapy was effective and safe in relieving perimenopausal symptoms and improving the quality of life in participants with perimenopausal syndrome.

The Gua sha Treatment Process for Perimenopause

So they used a buffalo horn scraper on the back, arms and legs.

  1. The back was done seated and followed the bladder channel from Bl-15 to Bl-23 - so that’s T5- L2. The tool was used at a 45 degree angle to the skin and some areas were pressed with the corner of the tool - Bl-15 (level with the spinous process of the 5th thoracic vertebra - the bony projection at each vertebra), Bl-18 (T9), Bl-20 (T11), and Bl-23 (L2) with the corner of the tool.

  2. This was followed by the heart channel from Ht-1 (in your armpit) to Ht-9 which is at the end of your little finger and with pressure at Ht-7 at the ulnar (little finger side) of your wrist.

  3. And the kidney channel from Kd-1(on the sole of your feet a third down from your toes to Kd-10 (at the inside of your knee area), and pressing Kd-1, Kd-3 - between the tip of the medial malleolus (inner ankle bone) and the Achilles tendon, and Kd-6 (in the gap below the medial malleolus).

Scraping was performed in one direction until sha appeared, typically 15 to 20 strokes for each channel and 20 to 30 strokes for each point.

Treatment was considered finished when all the sha was expressed and the total treatment time was about 15 minutes. The intensity of Gua sha was described as mild to moderate based on the tolerance of participants.

After Gua sha, the therapist gave participants a glass of warm water to help boost metabolism and instructed them to eat some light snacks, keep warm, and avoid taking a cold bath.

So the Gua sha treatment that they gave, wasn’t anything earth-shattering. It was very standard. Any Gua sha treatment of the back has multiple effects as it affects the body on different levels.This is part of seeing the body in 3D not 2D and understanding the effects as you go deeper into the body.

Understanding the Effects of Gua sha on the Body

What’s happening in the abdominal area is that blood is slowing down in the uterus. Problems occur when there is some weakness or obstruction in the uterus. There’s an idea of a guest pathology whereby something like cold enters the abdomen but the body is unable to naturally remove it. The natural downwards motion of the body hits the obstruction and bounces up like a trampoline.

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